Tommy Franklin (PDRA photo)

Franklin Rules The Roost In PDRA Drags

BUDDS CREEK, Md. — Racing on Father’s Day weekend at the PDRA North vs. South Shootout presented by Performance Polish, father-daughter duo Tommy and Amber Franklin and father-son duo Kurt and Ethan Steding earned double-up victories in their respective professional categories Saturday night at Maryland Int’l Raceway.

The family-focused wins capped off an unpredictable day of racing at the Red Line Oil PDRA Drag Racing Series’ fourth of eight races on the schedule. 

Tommy Franklin won in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous, Amber Franklin won in PDRA Pro 632, Kurt Steding won in WS Construction Pro Boost presented by P2 Contracting and Ty-Drive, and Ethan Steding was victorious in Menscer Motorsports Pro Street presented by Afco Racing. 
Memorable victories in the pro classes also went to Elijah Morton in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition, Brayden Davis in Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle, and Dan Whetstine in Afco Racing Super Street presented by Menscer Motorsports. 

An unpredictable day of Pro Nitrous eliminations ended with a final-round bye run for three-time and reigning world champion Tommy Franklin. He was set to face Billy Albert in the final round, but Albert couldn’t get his car started for his semifinal bye run. Franklin staged his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro and recorded a 3.645-second pass at 207.66 mph to secure the first end of a Franklin family double-up.

His daughter, past Pro 632 world champion Amber Franklin, later won her final round to lock up the father-daughter duo’s third double-up since she made her Pro 632 debut in late 2021. This most recent edition meant a little more since it fell on Father’s Day weekend.

“First and foremost, I dedicate this to my dad,” said Franklin, referencing his late father, Roger, who passed in 2022. “He’s the one that got me into this [drag racing] mess. I don’t regret one bit of it and I’m passing it right down to my daughters. Both of them are out here racing really good and I’m just proud of them. 

“My team is working hard,” added Franklin, who credited engine builder Pat Musi, Jerry Bickel Race Cars, Mark Menscer of Menscer Motorsports, and Red Line Oil. “It’s just a great program. Our car’s great. Jeff Pierce is awesome on the keyboard. It’s my whole crew, every single one of them. I don’t want to miss one of them, but they’re all awesome. They worked a lot on Friday. We changed some stuff around, trying to make strides, and that’s what we did. This is what we needed.”

Franklin faced fellow Virginian Dane Wood in the first round, where the two drivers left the starting line together, but Wood slowed to a 5.548 while Franklin set low E.T. of the round with his 3.685 at 207.08. It was an all-Virginia matchup in the next round, as Franklin paired up with past Elite Top Sportsman world champion Buddy Perkinson.

Franklin used a 3.679 at 207.62 to drive around Perkinson, who was quicker off the starting line and raced to a 3.732. The Fredericksburg-based driver then fired off low E.T. of the event, a 3.632 at 208.49, to eliminate defending event winner Marcus Butner and his 3.679 in the semifinals. 

Albert qualified No. 6 in Stan Nance’s Albert-powered Structural Mechanical ’69 Camaro before using a .002 reaction time and a 3.753 at 203.74 to beat Chris Rini and his matching 3.753 in the opening round. Albert won on the starting line in the second round as well, as opponent Derrick Ford went .132 red on a 3.722 pass after upsetting No. 1 qualifier Jim Halsey in the first round. Albert slowed to a 3.93 at 157.14 to get the win. He got a bye run in the semifinals, but since he couldn’t get his car fired at the ready line, he couldn’t advance to the final. 

Pro Boost standout Kurt Steding has had some memorable weekends at Maryland Int’l Raceway, but the 2024 North vs. South Shootout topped them all. He scored his second North vs. South Shootout title in his third consecutive final round at Maryland, and it was the first win for his new Todd Tutterow-tuned, screw-blown P2 Contracting ’69 Camaro.

But most importantly, he shared the winner’s circle with his 17-year-old son, Ethan, who clinched his second consecutive Pro Street win. In the final round, Steding left first over No. 2 qualifier Melanie Salemi and charged to a 3.601 at 209.72, while Salemi lifted to a 4.419 at 127.87. 

“I always do pretty good here in Maryland and Ethan did in his Jr. Dragster too,” said Steding, who thanked Tutterow, wife Wendi, and his P2 Racing team. “I just had a feeling we were both going to do it. This is the best Father’s Day gift you can have. I’m super proud of Ethan. He’s out of school now and he’s working hard on the job sites. He’s a hard-working kid, he saves his money, and he’s a hell of a driver. I’m very proud of him.”

Mountain Motor Pro Stock veteran Elijah Morton raced to his first Extreme Pro Stock victory since 2021 when he lit up the final-round win light in his Allen-powered Cashion Fishing Rods ’19 Mustang.

The mechanical gremlins that plagued numerous racers on Saturday bit final-round opponent Jeremy Huffman, who broke after the burnout. Still, Morton staged his hot rod and laid down low E.T. of the event, a 4.06 at 177.77, to put an exclamation mark on the win. 
Morton set low E.T. of every round, starting with a 4.118 at 175.96. He was unopposed in the first round, as past world champion Steven Boone couldn’t make the call. Morton then used a 4.09 at 177.70 to drive around another past world champ, Chris Powers, and his 4.204 at 173.23. On a semifinal bye run, Morton ran a 4.072 at 177.86 to earn lane choice for the final round.  

Past Pro 632 world champion Amber Franklin couldn’t have picked a better time and place to earn her first race of the season. She had to strap into her Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro just a few pairs of cars after watching her father, Tommy, solidify his first Pro Nitrous win of the season. The past Pro Jr. Dragster world champion stayed cool under pressure, leaving first by .002 seconds in her third final round of the season and running a 4.128 at 171.69 to beat Walter Lannigan Jr. and his 4.141 at 171.01. The performance stood for low E.T. of the event. 

For the second year in a row, third-generation Pro Extreme Motorcycle rider Brayden Davis delivered a Father’s Day weekend victory for his father and crew chief, multi-time world champion Travis Davis. The younger Davis lined up with two-time and reigning world champion Chris Garner-Jones in the final round, where Davis cut a .016 reaction time and charged to a 3.975 at 177.02 to take out Garner-Jones and his 3.959 at 179.14 on a holeshot. 

Just moments after watching his father win in the Pro Boost final round, Ethan Steding had to focus on securing a second consecutive Pro Street win in his roots-blown P2 Contracting ’24 Camaro. Like his first win, Steding staged without an opponent in the other lane, as fellow rookie Dan Norris couldn’t fire his car for the final round.

Steding took the tree and raced to a 4.329 at 189.73 to join his dad, Kurt, in the winner’s circle for their first double-up. It was just the fourth race in the class for Steding after moving up from Pro Jr. Dragster, where he was the 2021 world champion. 

The home team kept the Super Street trophy in Maryland, as LaPlata’s Dan Whetstine dominated the small-tire class all weekend. Tuned by two-time Pro Street world champion Tim Essick, Whetstine qualified No. 1 in his ProCharged “Red Velvet” ’90 Mustang, then improved through the first three rounds to reach his second consecutive final round.

Opponent Matt Schalow went red by .215 seconds in the final, but Whetstine was ready with a 4.558 at 163.16, which is quicker than the national E.T. record. 

Randy Perkinson, who won the Elite Top Sportsman season opener in the debut of his new ProCharged ’67 Mustang, had to sit out the last race on tour, but he bounced back with another win at Maryland.

The South Chesterfield, Virginia-based driver ran a 3.821 on a 3.80 dial-in to get around the holeshot advantage of Tim Lawrence to get the final-round win. Lawrence posted a 3.996 on a 3.97 dial-in in his Princeton, West Virginia-based, nitrous-fed ’13 Camaro for the runner-up honors. 

Competing in his second PDRA appearance of the season, Ohio’s Scott Wasko collected the Top Sportsman 48 event win in his ’11 GXP. He was quicker off the starting line and ran a 4.142 on a 4.11 dial-in to defeat Ed Foley in the final round. Foley recorded a 4.266 on a 4.26 dial-in in his ’05 Cobalt, but he was behind from the starting line on. 

After a runner-up and a semifinal finish in the first two races of the season, two-time and reigning Elite Top Dragster world champion Steve Furr picked up his first win of the year by knocking out Alan O’Brien in the final round.

Furr cut a solid light in his ProCharged Right Trailers ’13 American dragster and ran a 3.81 on a 3.80 dial-in, while O’Brien slowed to a 3.983 on a 3.82 dial-in driving his quad-turbocharged Greenbrier Excavating & Paving ’23 Race Tech dragster. 

Nearby Waldorf, Maryland’s Dickie Smith claimed another home-track win in Top Dragster 48 when he defeated young gun Maximus Butcher in the final round. Smith in his ’18 Race Tech won on the starting line, using a 4.358 on a 4.35 dial-in to hold off Butcher’s 4.395 on a 4.39 dial-in in his ’23 American dragster. 

Event winners in the sportsman classes were Randy Perkinson in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by PAR Racing Engines, Steve Furr in Laris Motorsports Insurance Elite Top Dragster presented by Greenbrier Excavating & Paving, Scott Wasko in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 48 presented by Corbin’s RV, and Dickie Smith in Laris Motorsports Insurance Top Dragster 48 presented by Younce RV. In Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams, a starting line advantage helped Mike Reavis in his ’19 Race Tech dragster get the final-round win over Kyle Hustwayte, with Reavis’s 4.773 on a 4.75 dial-in beating Hustwayte’s 4.721 on a 4.72 dial-in.
Second-generation PDRA racers in the Jr. Dragster categories also earned Father’s Day weekend wins, with Ryan Harris winning in Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by Philadelphia Racing Products and James Beattie III taking Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by Philadelphia Racing Products. Harris cut a .019 reaction time and ran a perfect 7.90 in his Burford, Ontario, Canada-based ’08 Halfscale dragster in the final round to defeat Alyssa Tilghman, who broke out with a 7.887 in her Henrico, Virginia-based ’21 Mike Bos dragster. In a double breakout final round, Beattie ran an 8.948 on an 8.96 dial-in in his ATI Performance ’22 Mike Bos to beat points leader Victoria Beaner and her 8.824 on an 8.90 dial-in in her VRB Motorsports ’22 Mike Bos dragster.